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In The NFL, It’s All About QB And Coaching

This feature is a weekly piece on titled From The Eagles, featuring Eagles Insider Dave Spadaro. The intention is to provide a perspective directly from the Philadelphia Eagles in this forum for the great fans who visit BGN.

No scientific data to prove this theory, just years of observation and talk with those who know far more than I about the NFL. What wins in this league is quarterback play and the best coaching, and the rest of it in terms of talent level across the board is relatively the same.

So when people ask about Sam Bradford and his six games in this Eagles offense, hey, it's understandable. Bradford has done some good things - he's been durable, he's taken some big hits and gotten right back up, he's shown mobility that belies consecutive surgeries on his anterior cruciate ligament, he's been able to generate a deep passing game and he's helped the Eagles dig out of 0-2 and 1-3 holes to reach 3-3 and get back in the game in the NFC East.

But Bradford has also some parts of his game that he needs to, as the coaches and players like to say, "clean up." He's got to improve his mechanics, particularly his footwork. He needs to be more accurate throwing to all levels - short, intermediate and long. And he has to cut down, way down, on his interceptions. Bradford has 9 of them, 4 in the end zone, and that is why he is the talk of the town.

So what are the Eagles going to do with Bradford? Are they going to put him on a short leash? No. Are they going to get Mark Sanchez warmed up and prepped to step in? Well, yes Sanchez has to be ready at a moment's notice, but there's no thought to making a quarterback change. Are they thinking about Bradford's projection and what he'll look like in December for the stretch run? No.

What they are doing is working on ways to get Bradford going from the start of the game through the end of the fourth quarter. They're analyzing his mechanics. They're discussing the thought process of why he's throwing where in a game. They're working every day on the game plan and on which throws are best for him to have success.

The Eagles very much believe in Bradford. They knew going in that he had played only seven games in the previous two seasons and that there would be a degree of rust to work through to get to ground zero in this system with the quarterback.

So there is no panic. There certainly is the understanding that the mistakes must be minimized, so the combination of quarterback (Bradford) working hard and being honest with himself and coaches (Chip Kelly, offensive coordinator Pat Shumur, quarterbacks coach Ryan Day) continuing to push Bradford on a daily basis in every phase of his game. The Eagles need to challenge Bradford, maybe even take that up a notch, during the week to get him ready for Sundays.

Kelly said as much the day after the 27-7 win over New York.

"A lot of the situations we do in the training, like everybody, are controlled situations, and when it comes to the game, it's an uncontrolled situation," Kelly said. "So we need to simulate it as best we can. But you also can't go, you know, live, full go and have a rush come after him and try to hit him in practice. I mean, you're not going to lose your quarterback in practice; I think that's the one difficulty with it, with any coach, when you're trying to simulate things in a practice situation that are applicable to the games. There are certain things -- you know, everybody tries to stay away from the quarterback just because of the injury factor and you've got to keep those guys healthy. There's a reason everybody in the NFL has those guys in red jerseys.

"We've got to do a little bit better of a job, in terms of simulating the experience of what goes on in a game."

We'll see if it makes a difference, if the Eagles can simulate enough in their training to make a difference for Bradford on game day (or in Sunday's case, game night). It's all about the quarterback (Bradford) and the coaches (Kelly and Co.) for the Eagles right now. They've improved the offensive line. The running game is productive. The receivers are getting open. The defense is playing very well. The special teams are back producing at their usual high level.

If the Eagles can, collectively, improve Bradford and cut down the turnovers and score more touchdowns in the red zone and start games more efficiently, this team can go places. That's the goal, and it's a day-by-day job for all.